Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Turin pharmacies

At great request dear amici, this post about Italian pharmacies will answer many of your questions about medical emergencies while traveling or living in Italy when you can't speak the language and don't have a family doctor because you don't have the resident status.

Farmacia della Consolata dates back to 1510, Via delle Orfane 25/G

Besides our many historical cafés, Turin also happens to have many historical pharmacies downtown, dating back to the 16th! 

  • Why do Italian hold on so tight to their local pharmacies?

In Italy healthcare is a citizens' right and it is the government's duty to make sure everyone is and stays healthy. Even more so during the pandemic we are still going through.
This is part of our culture, our values and it's always been this way; this also explains why in Turin you can even go on a tour of historical pharmacies 😲

In Italy, a few businesses and professions are regulated by the government, others by the local administrations and councils, some by the professional associations and others are free.
Like education, healthcare (national healthcare, 'single payer system') is also regulated by the government from the university degrees that give access to the medical professions to the management of the resources on our national territory. Currently, because they have a more clear picture of the local situation, the Italian regional and city councils manage and regulate the distribution on our administrative areas of: hospitals, family physicians and also pharmacies.

As Dr Federica Bo, PharmD at Regia Farmacia explained to me: as per Italian law there must be a pharmacy every 3300 inhabitants to make sure everyone can refer to trusted place to buy meds and ask for help.

Italian pharmacies aren't merely shops where you can buy medications and other healthcare beauty products, and the personnel working behind the counter and in the lab aren't just sales assistants.
Like our family doctors, Italian pharmacies must be 'equally' distributed on the local territory in order to grant their services to the population who lives nearby. Because Italian pharmacies aren't supposed to be part of the competing market like a bookshop or a restaurant, there is just a limited number of them. And only people who graduated from the Pharmacy School at the university can be assigned to a pharmacy to work in.

digital panel to find all pharmacy services and pharmacies on duty

info available in many languages: health is a human right

the list of the open pharmacies all around Turin with the map

Keep in mind that pharmacies work on shifts too to grant some basic service to the population even on holidays and days when regular businesses are generally closed.
You'll find the shift schedule with the addresses and days of the open pharmacies right outside the main door 🏥 or on a panel like the one above.

see the little display case on the right? That's the list of the pharmacies on duty in Turin.
This is Farmacia Algostino Demichelis founded in 1840 in Piazza Vittorio 10

  • Whenever you come over, the Italian pharmacist becomes your best friend!

Don't be scared, go without any shame and make them part of any of your worries, problems and needs, you'll quickly find how compassionate, understanding and knowledgeable they are 🙏
Most Italian pharmacists can speak English, the older ones can speak French, and being doctors (not MD, but doctors in Pharmacy) they can easily advise you and tell you if you do need to see a physician.

Dr Carlo Ferrero, PharmD of Farmacia Collegiata founded in 1767 in Via del Carmine 1.
When you go you'll find out that all his kids followed his footsteps and work with
him just like their 3 previous generations 😎

The Italian system offers 3 parallel medical options to see a doctor: the public one paid in full by the government thanks to the citizens' taxes (sometimes there can be a copay); the private one (patients pay for their visits, tests, drugs in full) and the mixed one: private partly subsidized by the national government (quick, easy and not costly). The pivot of the whole system is still the family doctor whose office is in your area, within a 5 minute walk from where you live... just like 'your trusted pharmacy'.
... more often than not both the fam doc and the pharmacist also live in your same hood!

the old sign of Farmacia Collegiata founded before 1500 and
selling the purest drugs and galenic preparations

  • Italian family doctors

Italian family doctors are supposed to visit their patients home whenever they are too sick to go to the doctor's. In case of covid19 suspicion or symptoms, there are USCA (unità speciali di continuità assistenziale) a special unit of continuing medical assistance (MDs) who put on their hazmat suits before entering your house and do all the things you are medically required to do, tests included.

Most foreign travelers to Italy aren't residents consequently don't have an Italian family doctor and most likely, in case of need, wouldn't have any medical prescription to get their medications in an Italian pharmacy.
For this reason, we always recommend to get an international travel health insurance.

Then once you are here, using our private medical services will be very practical and in any case: both private medical visits, tests and drugs are super cheap in Europe compared to the US!

Regia Farmacia since 1824 behind Palazzo Reale / royal palace and
in front of the Duomo where the Holy Shroud of Turin is preserved.

  • However, what to do if you need a blood test, an HIV test or an X-ray?

ALWAYS ask your pharmacist because they always have the right answer!!
To have an idea of some pharmacy services, click here.

Minor tests like cholesterol and glycemic index can be performed in many Italian pharmacies.
For HIV you can purchase a test and do it in the privacy of your home just like a pregnancy test.
To change bandages/medication, curative nail clippings, pressure tests can also be done in the back of a pharmacy.
To see the list of the services offered by the municipal pharmacies in Turin, click here.

Most meds and tests however require a prescription or an official doctor's referral that you can get privately by visiting a private doctor or a poliambulatorio - aka a private or semi-private medical practice with many doctors and their own lab.
Residents can book their medical tests at the pharmacy too.

Dr Mattia Ferrero, PharmD in the lab of Farmacia Collegiata in Via del Carmine 1
while making a drug following a prescription. 

Amici, we are sure you'll agree with us that Shonda Rhymes should definitely consider a new historical pharm rom-com set in our Turin revolving around our pharmacies! Just imagine the glamor and the intrigues: who could ever resist a Turinese pharmacist?? 😂

A special note to our great Turin pharmacies and pharmacists!
Many of them produce their own (line of) products: drugs, beauty products of virtually any kind and digestive or restorative liqueurs too.

Original decor of Farmacia Collegiata in Via del Carmine 1. Reading all the labels on those old
bottles does make you feel like you are taking a class at Hogwarts! The historical pharmacies in Turin are real museums and give you so many clues about our local history and lifestyle

  • 10 historical pharmacies in Turin

So when in Turin, take advantage of our pharmacies, and visit our historical ones! You'll be fascinated by the details of their original decor! 

in Via Po by the Turin University

Via Garibaldi area:

Via Po and Piazza Vittorio:
  • Farmacia Operti since 1830 in Piazza Vittorio 11 

Farmacia Bosio since 1605 in Via Garibaldi

You'll be amazed by how they still have their original wood furniture and many historical tools, scales, mortars, boxes, vials and bottles displayed.
These pharmacies are literally small stargates on the past centuries, our Turin lifestyle and yet, their professionals are super up to date, welcoming and ready to help you!

Don't be scared, a pharmacist in Italy will always be your friend 😊

Needless to tell you our walking tours always include some of these pharmacies because their are fascinating and an inherent part of our royal local culture 👑

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